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HindustanTimes Fri,25 Apr 2014

Amritsar waiter out to turn garbage into education

Shaheen P Parshad, Hindustan Times  Amritsar, May 13, 2013
First Published: 23:53 IST(13/5/2013) | Last Updated: 01:42 IST(14/5/2013)

Two months ago, Mithun Kumar, a waiter at a dhaba, was honoured for his work to educate children from impoverished families. Today, he is about to take up another project – manufacturing and selling organic compost -- because his wages are no longer sufficient for the task in hand.

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In 2008, Kumar had started his “free school” in Amritsar’s Nangli village, for the children of labourers and ragpickers, who had little chance of getting an education. Today, the school has 127 children.

After HT reported the matter in the “You Read They Learn” series last year, in March, the alumni of the Ohio University hosted a benefit dinner here in his honour.

But making ends meet has become a problem.

On a salary of R6,000 per month, Kumar not only supplies study material to all the children, he runs the school from a rented accommodation. In February, he bought a 120 sq yard plot for the school and the construction for a three-storied school building started last month. The recycling project -- collecting and selling cardboards, cans, bottles and cartons – does not help much.

So a couple of weeks ago, Kumar began the compost scheme.

The “machinery” is already in place – six huge earthenware pots. And they are full too. Kumar has managed to collect food waste, fruit pulp and stale vegetables from malls, restaurants and markets. The compost will be ready in 64 days.

All he needs now are buyers. “I’m banking on this for the funds I need,” Kumar said.

Though Kumar is starting small, he hopes to convert it into a proper business one day – and provide a firm anchor for his dream school.

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